Barbados Snorkeling Guide
Snorkel in Barbados …
It goes without saying that snorkeling is a ‘must do‘ in Barbados. With a number of colorful coral reefs to explore and plenty of fascinating marine life to see, snorkeling is a popular pastime for both island locals and visitors alike.
Snorkel equipment such as life jackets, masks, snorkels and fins can also be easily rented or purchased from a number of local shops or beach-side kiosks. Or, why not join a guided snorkeling tour or book a trip on one of the many local catamaran cruises that operate daily island-wide.
Not only is snorkeling is a fun and exciting activity, it’s also relatively easy to do -unlike scuba diving, snorkeling involves little training or expertise, so it’s something the whole family can enjoy!
What can I expect?
There’s excellent visibility for snorkeling in the island’s clear coastline waters. You don’t need to swim too far out from shore to view a wide range of sea creatures and tropical fish. You’re bound to see coral reef formations, parrot fish, slugs, barrel sponges, sea urchins and even sea turtles (see below).
The sandy bottom of the ocean floor means snorkelers in Barbados also have the chance to view the occasional sea snake, conch shell and starfish.
Hint: Sea horses can also be found close to the shoreline – look closely in the weeds and plant life as these beautiful creatures can sometimes be very hard to spot.
Savvy snorkelers will pay close attention to rocks, cement blocks, logs and old jetty remains, wrecks or other debris. These spots make excellent homes and hiding places for tropical fish and other sea life including octopus, moray eels and other exciting finds.
There’s even some sunken shipwrecks in Barbados’ waters. You can snorkel above them as well as dive down into them to get a closer look, so make sure to bring an underwater camera.
Be Aware: Watch out for sea urchins and stingrays when walking on any shallow reefs.
Swimming with the turtles – a must!
Barbados is well-known for its hawksbill turtles however lucky snorkelers might get the chance to see the leatherback and green turtles that also make Barbados their home. If you’re out snorkeling on Barbados’ coastline, you’re bound to see a sea turtle and if you want an almost guaranteed sighting, basically all local catamaran cruises have a west coast stop off during their tours, solely dedicated to swimming with these sea turtles.
Tip: The best time to view leatherback turtles are between February and July when they visit Barbados’ shores to nest. The green turtle and the hawksbill turtle both nest mainly between May to October, however nesting has been documented in every month of the year. There’s hardly anywhere else in the world where you can interact with these sea turtles in their natural environment, so get snorkeling in Barbados today!
Where to snorkel?
All beaches in Barbados are open to the public however snorkelers should contain their adventures to the calmer waters of the south and west coasts of the island. Here you’ll find almost a continual line of white sandy beaches, less wave action and a number of beautifully maintained and fully accessible beaches to swim out from.
The best snorkeling conditions in Barbados are found along the shallow reefs close to shore. Here, you can view colourful corals, schools of tropical fish, and other sea creatures that feed off these reefs.
There are also two major marine parks along the coastline of the island – Folkestone Marine Park in St. James on the west coast, and Carlisle Bay Marine Park in St. Michael on the south-west coast.
When To Snorkel?
The island is blessed with the warm blue waters of the Caribbean Sea along the snorkeling hotspots of the south and west coasts of Barbados – water temperatures rarely go below 79°F (25°C).
Avoid snorkeling after a storm or when waves are present – storms often kick up the sand and make for poor visibility while waves can make it difficult to position yourself along the water’s surface. This creates the risk getting water into your snorkel and hence making it difficult to breathe through the tube.
By: Brett Callaghan